As you know, the Know You Normal Campaign is about raising awareness of women’s health issues and giving women the confidence to go and have any changes they notice in their bodies checked out. We’re handing the the keyboard over to Kaz from Womb Cancer Support UK today as she shares the facts and figures about the most common gynaecological cancer that you may not have heard of.
If I was to ask you what the most common gynaecological cancer was then odds are you would probably say ovarian or cervical – but you’d be wrong.
Womb cancer, or endometrial cancer as it’s sometimes called, is the 4th most common cancer in women in the UK, behind breast, lung and bowel cancer. According to the latest statistics from CRUK, in 2013 9,022 women were diagnosed with womb cancer with 7,284 being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. So why isn’t womb cancer as well-known as ovarian cancer and other female cancers?
I wish I knew because when I was diagnosed on 23rd Dec 2009 with it, I had never heard of womb cancer. I had heard about ovarian and cervical cancers but womb cancer? I didn’t know it then but I ticked virtually all the risk factor boxes for it. I was overweight; I had started my periods early; they had always been irregular and heavy and I had never been pregnant. (Other risk factors include having PCOS and being diabetic)
Sadly there is no national awareness campaign for womb cancer like there is for cervical cancer or breast cancer so many women are unaware that they might be at risk of being diagnosed. Any media attention that womb cancer gets seems to focus on obesity (CRUK say that 41% of cases can be put down to obesity – but there doesn’t seem to be any explanation as to why women of normal weight get it) Indeed some women don’t “tick” any of the risk factor boxes yet they still get diagnosed!!
Sadly womb cancer is often regarded as a cancer that post-menopausal women get – according to CRUK between 2010-13 almost 60% of cases were in women aged over 65, but there are increasing numbers of younger women being diagnosed. I was 46 when I was diagnosed and I know of women as young as 20 who have been diagnosed.
All these statistics are real women – Mothers, Daughters, Wives, Sisters, Aunts, Nieces, Grand-mothers.
In April 2011 I started Womb Cancer Support UK, an online based womb cancer support and awareness not for profit organisation. Despite it being the most common gynaecological cancer there was no specific womb cancer support out there so I filled the gap and we now have over 2,000 likers on our FB page and 140 women in a private chat group and our website is getting around 1000 visitors a week. We offer support to women who have been diagnosed and are working hard to raise much needed awareness.
So Know Your Normal; always get any unexplained or unusual bleeding checked out by your GP. If your cycle changes dramatically or you start spotting in-between cycles or bleeding if you are post-menopausal then again please see your GP. Don’t ignore it and hope it will go away. It might not be womb cancer but if it is then the earlier it is caught and treated the better.
In case you didn’t know it, September is womb cancer awareness month and peach is the womb cancer awareness colour. So this September please do something to help raise awareness of womb cancer because not all women’s cancers are pink.